cover crops in a raised bed

nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)October 2, 2010

Yes, I went to the class on cover crops, BUT I have to have raised beds due to gophers.

Can these cover crops be turned in by hand or by a very low digging process?

I don't use a rototiller because I have wire in my raised beds. They are about 8" high. I have to hand dig them.

TIA Nancy

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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

I've read quite a bit about cover crops and the benefit to the soil, however, in my case, I can grow things all year round, so the idea of having my raised bed in gardening boxes taken out of use, seems a bit futile. My growing soil is limited anyway - but it sounds great if you live in a cold climate, where you could sow the crop late in the fall, and let nature and cold weather do the breaking down for you.

It depends then, in my opinion, on what type of gardening you do. I feel that I can get similar results just by adding good compost and soil amendments before planting.

At the present time, my summer time beds have been covered with mulch - made up mostly from leaves and chicken manure, and leaf mold, with the hope of bringing up angle worms from deep in the earth, to help revitalize my soil, in time for next month's fall/winter plantings of bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, beets, etc.

Just my 2 c's.

Bejay

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:34AM
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thisisme(az9b)

I have never used one but there are a lot of good reviews for the Black & Decker GC818 18-Volt Cordless Electric Garden Cultivator at Amazon.com. It seams like its practically made for small areas like a raised bed.

Take a look at the reviews at the bottom and see what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cordless Electric Garden Cultivator

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 5:23PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

That's a VERY tempting little tool!
I can't figure out if it comes with the battery and charger or not. I'll have to go down to the HD and see if it comes with. Thanks Nancy

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:14PM
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thisisme(az9b)

Nancy here's a complete one at a good price.

Here is a link that might be useful: Black & Decker 18V Rechargeable Garden Cultivator GC818

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:40PM
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scarletdaisies(6)

I bought a hand tool that did ok, bought it in the middle to end of growing season, so I can't vouch it did a great job, it was never used accept towards the end. It's a hand tiller I got off Amaazon.com, cool tool, It stands about 3 feet tall with inner and outer spikes with a t-handle to twist the spikes back and forth, would be great for beds. There is also a smaller version, but it looks like an invitation for carpul tunnel. One hand, twisting back and forth, the repetitive motion would damage the strongest wrists, only my guess, but here's the link if your looking for something nonelectric:

http://www.amazon.com/Ames-HDP12-8-STANDING-TILLER-PRONG/dp/B000FJRS4W/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1286165517&sr=8-10

There are some under other names called garden weasel, but that's not the one I bought, still you could look into those too.

You can plant yellow dock as ground cover and believe it or not dandelions, just pick the flowers off so no seeds. Not sure you would like that, but it's true, plus you can plant ragweed. All good for your plant, there is also beans as a cover crop or peas, the replenish the soil with nitrogen and goodies of all kinds, just plow them under as you go.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden tool

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 12:15AM
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gardener_sandy

Cover crops don't really have to be turned in if you switch to a no-till gardening style. Cut the tops off close to the soil surface and either put them on the compost pile or just lay the tops down as mulch. You can chop them up a bit if you want. A weed eater would work well for this process. Pull them back to plant. The nutrients still end up in the soil. (I'm not a "hard core" no-till gardener but it does work.)

Sandy

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 5:21AM
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deep___roots(ca9/sunset15)

If your beds will not be in use over Winter, cover crops are very useful. Turning them into the soil by hand tools is not so hard either.
Crimson clover, vetch, rye are easy. If you want some bang for your buck, plant some fava beans. Attractive plants and the beans are quite tasty in some recipes. Roots fix nitrogen, the cut down plants are good for your compost pile. Even Orchard Supply Hardware carries fava bean seeds now.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 1:00PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Thanks all! NT

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 10:34PM
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pippimac(New Zealand)

I'll always put in a word for favas! Don't dig the plants, just chop them down and compost.
I love the beans. The trick is to pick 'em bofore they're huge and tough

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 1:03AM
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